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United States Will Require All Passengers Flying from UK to Have Negative COVID-19 Test Certificate

United States Will Require All Passengers Flying from UK to Have Negative COVID-19 Test Certificate

The United States is to require all passengers flying from the United Kingdom to present a negative COVID-19 test certificate within 72-hours of travel according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) press release published late on Thursday evening.

The new restrictions come just days after Britain’s minister of health Matt Hancock described a new variant of the novel Coronavirus that has been detected in the country and which is up to 70 per cent more transmissible as “out of control”.

Photo Credit: United Airlines

The rules are set to come in the form of a Presidential proclamation which will be signed by President Trump on Christmas Day. The pre-travel testing mandate will then take effect from December 28, 2020 and until further notice.

“Today, President Trump is taking another step to protect the health of the American people by requiring air passengers arriving from the United Kingdom (U.K.) to test negative, via PCR or Antigen test, no more than 72 hours before departure from the U.K. to the United States,” the CDC said in a statement on Christmas Eve.

Travel between the UK and United States is already heavily restricted after President Trump banned the entry of foreign nationals who have visited the United Kingdom in the past 14 days as part of the initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, passenger numbers between the UK and the U.S. have plummeted by over 90 per cent and airlines are operating just a fraction of their pre-pandemic transatlantic schedules.

“This additional testing requirement will fortify our protection of the American public to improve their health and safety and ensure responsible international travel,” the CDC statement continued.

The rules echo recommendations made by the European Commission which urged its member states to lift hastily arranged travel bans through the use of pre-departure testing. Several countries, including the Netherlands and France, have already implemented the recommendations.

President Trump is, however, creating rules that some airlines have already taken it upon themselves to implement without federal input.

As of Christmas Eve, both Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic have required a negative COVID-19 test certificate on flights from the UK to the United States. British Airways has also required negative tests on flights to New York JFK since December 22 following a direct request from Governor Andrew Cuomo.

And despite initially rejecting the idea of pre-departure testing on its services from London, United Airlines said on Thursday that it would also require passengers to present a negative test certificate starting December 28. United’s announcement came just hours before the CDC revealed the new rules.

The discovery of a more infectious strain of the novel Coronavirus is set to push back plans to lift the current travel ban on foreign nationals who have been in Britain visiting the United States.

High-level discussions have been ongoing between officials on both sides of the Atlantic and there had been talk that the ban would be lifted within weeks. Before the new Coronavirus strain was detected, officials had backed lifting the ban but it’s not known whether they’ve withdrawn that advice because of a surge in infections in the UK.

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